Bring on the Big Guns!

New Zealand Classic Car - - Behind The Garage Door -

As well as con­vert­ing French vans into cof­fee-carts, Cus­tom Me­tal­shapers Ltd are also as­sist­ing NZ Mil­i­tary Ve­hi­cles Col­lec­tors’ Club (NZMVCC) chair­man, Peter Yates, with his Chevro­let FAT60 (Field Ar­tillery Trac­tor). Man­u­fac­tured on 28th Novem­ber, 1941, this beast en­tered ser­vice that year with the NZ Army un­der the num­ber NZ3944 and was still ac­tive as of 24th Fe­bru­ary, 1949 with the Otago Reg­i­ment’s Coastal De­fence Bat­tery. The Chev was sub­se­quently sold by the Govern­ment Stores Board in the mid to late ’50s and it was ac­quired by the NZ Broad­coast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (NZBC). They cut away the ve­hi­cle’s rear sec­tion to fit an emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tor and, in this way, the Chev served as the emer­gency power source for the NZBC re­peater above Reefton for over 20 years.

The FAT60 was saved by a lo­cal en­thu­si­ast in 1974 and par­tially re­stored over the fol­low­ing years. The chas­sis and run­ning gear has been ex­ten­sively re­stored over the past 18 months, with new en­gine, brakes, brake lines, fuel sys­tem, electrics and, of course, a vir­tu­ally new body has been fab­ri­cated by the team at Cus­tom Me­tal­shapers us­ing sur­viv­ing ex­am­ples at the Army Mu­seum as their point of ref­er­ence.

We look for­ward to see­ing this his­toric mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle pulling an ammo trailer and 25–pounder gun some­time in 2015.

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